It’s just on our doorstep yet York is one of those places that I have only really visited for work and a one day trip a few years ago, just me and Jon, writes Hollyoaks actor Sarah Jayne Dunn.
So when K9 Magazine asked us to review a dog friendly hotel there a few weeks ago, we were super excited at the chance to spend a leisurely weekend exploring the city with the whole squad. Me, Jon, Stanley and of course, Ming Ming, our pet Pug.
We stayed at The Mount Royale Hotel which is just a leisurely 10-15 minute stroll from the very heart of York. We arrived around 8pm on Friday evening with a tired toddler and excited Pug in tow and the staff at the hotel could not have been more welcoming and helpful, coming out to meet us at the car to help with our luggage and children!
We were taken straight to our room, the ‘Garden Room’ which is located on the ground floor of the hotel, as the staff could see we had our hands full. The room was large and well equipped and a fold out bed had been set up for Stanley which he found very exciting, whilst Ming explored the room by running around every space and having a good old sniff!
Trying to get the kids settled with such exciting new surroundings was the first challenge. Jon took Ming out into the extensive gardens to let her burn up some of her energy whilst I tried my best to convince Stanley that getting into his own big boy bed and not climb all over our lovely big bed would be much more exciting. This failed.
When Jon and Ming returned we gave into the fact that it was going to be a late night for the kids and decided to order some room service, ‘Pie and a pint’ (a glass of red for me) and we all settled into the big bed together to watch some ‘Paw Patrol’, which is currently on constant repeat in our lives as it’s Stanley’s favourite thing.
Stanley eventually dozed off and Ming didn’t take quite as much convincing, making herself at home on her towel on one of the hotel room chairs. Then, as if they knew that peace and quiet had commenced, our food arrived.
So as not to disturb the kids by turning on lights or making any noise I chose to sit in the ample walk-in wardrobe area to eat my food. It was really more than big enough to do this and the perfect space, complete with a large comfy chair and fridge (full of bottled water provided by the hotel).
This room also housed the kettle and cafetière, an assortment of teas and biscuits, robes and an iron and ironing board. The pie, chips, peas and gravy were honestly delicious and one of the best pies I’ve ever had (and being a Northern girl I do love a pie) and my wine was yummy too.
Happily full and feeling a food coma kick in, we transferred Stanley into his own bed and settled down for the night.
Being parents to an excitable two year boy and three year old Pug means the days of lazy lie-ins are well and truly behind us, therefore our days normally begin at around 6-7am. However our room had the most wonderful big curtains that blocked out all the light and we didn’t hear a single noise all night, apart from the usual soothing sounds of Ming Ming’s grunting and snoring.
To our surprise and utter delight Stanley only woke us at 8am - a miracle! He had found his way into our bed at some point in the night but the bed was so big that we barely noticed and I think the fact we were all so comfy and cosy together helped him to sleep in, what a wonderful start to the weekend.
I popped the kettle on and threw some clothes on Stanley so he could go into the garden with Jon and Ming to explore. The second we opened the curtains to our wonderful garden view, he was desperate to get outside. Our room had a lovely little seating area with a table and two chairs right outside overlooking the well-kept and matured gardens, which would be wonderful in Summer to sit and have a cup of coffee or glass of wine.
I made use of the peace and quiet to get myself showered and ready and fuelled with some fresh coffee before Jon returned with the kids and we headed to breakfast.
There are two breakfast rooms and we ended up in the ‘overflow’ room, which was very lovely and light, my only slight observation about this room was that it didn’t have any background music playing like the main breakfast room and this made for awkward silences over breakfast, as when you did speak, the room is that small that you know everyone else having their breakfast couldn’t help but listen in, it just needed a bit of something to create a more relaxed atmosphere.
Breakfast itself was delicious and the choice was extensive with every breakfast item you could imagine choosing from, plus fruit and cereals and juices on the breakfast table to help yourself to.
I had eggs benedict, my fave, Jon had a fry up, a classic, and Stanley had boiled eggs with soldiers which came wearing little hats and with funny faces drawn on them, much to his delight!
Once we’d eaten we gathered our belongings from our room to head out to York for the day.
The weather had turned itself around after a few miserable days and the sun had decided to come out for us, which meant a pleasant stroll into York from our hotel was just lovely.
Not far from the hotel we passed a lovely little ‘dog friendly’ coffee shop called ‘Gulp and Graze’, where we decided to pop in to pick up a couple of takeaway coffees for our stroll and some banana bread for Stanley.
It doesn’t take long at all before you find yourself wandering into the pretty cobbled streets of York and mooching past the lovely shops and cafes.
Our stroll time purposefully coincided with Stanley’s nap time and so we took our time wandering around the newer part of the city, window shopping and getting our bearings until Stanley eventually nodded off.
This timed perfectly with our lunch reservation at the fairly new, very beautiful and very central York ‘Ivy Brasserie’.
We had reserved a table outside so that we were able to take Ming Ming with us. They’re very happy for you to have your dog with you if you are sitting alfresco and we parked Stanley’s pram up next to us while he slept.
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I love people watching so sitting outside in the heart of the beautiful city meant we could do this to our heart's content.
With our hotel being so close, neither of us had to drive that day and we could just forget about the car, so we ordered a lovely bottle of rosé wine whilst we made our food choices, which was hard as the selection is vast and all sounded delicious!
I decided on smoked salmon to start and a stunning large salad for my main whilst Jon went for seared tuna. Ming ordered a large bowl of chilled water.
The food and service were impeccable. We’ve tried a couple of the Ivy Brasserie restaurants previously in London and Bath and they didn’t disappoint and I’m happy to say that York’s Ivy lived up to their standards. I’d highly recommend.
As if he could sense it, Stanley woke up just as the dessert menus arrived and of course we had to sample the Chocolate Bombe, it would be rude not to. I’d like to say that we shared it, but Stanley soon came round when it arrived and we didn’t really get a look in.
We were very ready to walk off all our food and drink and decided to head to The York Minster. On our way, we very happily stumbled across a drink’s festival called ‘Solast’.
This was a set up of street food dining, alfresco drinking, day beds and music. It was very dog friendly and perfect to keep Stanley entertained. We ordered him a hot dog as he hadn’t eaten lunch with us earlier and got ourselves an alcoholic beverage.
The atmosphere was great, very family friendly and relaxed and the location was perfect being right next to the York Minster. Once we’d finished our drinks we had a look around a stone mason’s competition that just happened to be taking place next to the festival. Stanley loved looking at all the sculptures being created, as did we and Ming loved saying “hello” to every human and dog that showed her even the slightest bit of attention.
Next, we had a lovely stroll in the beautiful sunshine around the York Minster, what a stunning building, before heading lazily back to our hotel.
We returned with plenty of time to spare before our dinner reservation and so decided to make use of the hotel’s on-site outdoor pool because the sun had come out for our weekend away. Luckily for us, the pool doesn’t shut until September and it’s heated, so we all got our swimmers on and walked through the gardens to the pool.
The pool was being looked after by a lovely lady who welcomed us and showed us where the changing rooms and sauna were and gave Stanley some armbands. There were a few other couples enjoying the sun around the pool drinking beers and coffees.
Stanley didn’t hesitate to jump in and was thrilled to have the pool nearly all to himself. He was very happy to keep climbing out of the pool just to jump back in! After spending a good 40 minutes or so chasing Stanley in and out of the pool, we headed back to our room to get ready for dinner. Jon walked Ming around the gardens and gave her dinner whilst I got Stanley dried off and ready.
We chose to eat in the hotel restaurant ‘Oxo’s on the Mount’ and as we were dining quite early, 6pm, the restaurant was empty. The staff could not have been more accommodating, providing a high chair and crayons for Stanley and seating us at a lovely large table facing the window to the gardens.
Our meal started with Amuse Bouche which was a lovely soup. For starters, I ordered Goats cheese Crostini and then salmon for my main. Stanley was allowed to order “anything he liked”.
We went for beans on toast and he absolutely devoured it, no wonder after all the excitement and activities of the day! Our food was absolutely delicious and the service fantastic. The restaurant very quickly got busy and I can understand why, it was one of the tastiest meals we’ve had. I would revisit the hotel just to eat at the restaurant again. I can imagine it must get booked up quickly by both locals and visitors.
Full to the brim and happy from our wonderful, jam-packed day, we headed back to our huge bed to make a big family cuddle, Stanley and Ming Ming both fell asleep without much persuasion, as did myself and Jon.
We woke up eager to sample another yummy hotel breakfast and again sat in the second dining area. This time we went for scrambled eggs, an omelette (of epic proportions) and croissants with lots of coffee to give us some walking energy.
We decided to leave the car again and stroll into the city. On the way, we stopped at a dog friendly pub called ‘The Three Legged Mare’. Not much to write home about, to be honest, but a useful stopping point to water the children and let Ming have a rest out of the sun.
We weren’t heading in any particular direction, we just decided to see what we stumbled across. In York, there’s lots to discover and we found ourselves in the grounds of the York Museum.
We wandered around the beautiful walled garden and marvelled at the modern building and pieces of art. Had we not had Ming with us we would have gone inside but unfortunately, she wasn’t allowed in the building.
We found some very Instagram-able doors and walls to take lovely pictures in front of, particularly in the museum gardens which are home to the York Art Gallery, St Mary’s Church Ruins, The York Observatory and many more beautiful buildings. Dogs are welcome to walk around the gardens, as long as they are kept on a lead.
Further wandering brought us to the River Ouse which is very picturesque and perfect for strolling along. There also seemed to be boat tours you can take.
We walked back through the city to make sure we hadn’t missed any must-see spots and passed a wonderful coffee shop we’d visited on our last visit to York as they are dog friendly!
Filmore and Union offer delicious natural and wholesome food and serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Their coffee is top notch and so are their cakes and fresh juices. We filled our boots and sipped coffee and nibbled on banana bread all the way back to the hotel.
Unfortunately, it was time for us to set off for home as I had work the following morning, as did Jon and we had to get the kids back to get them back into their bedtime routine.
Although our stay in York was only short I’d say it was one of our most memorable.
This is down to the exceptional service of the staff at The Mount Royale, the quality of their food and the super convenient location of the hotel. All stress was taken away from us meaning all we had to do was switch off and relax (as much as you can do with a two year old and a dog).
I’d revisit this hotel in a heartbeat. York is a beautiful place and I think there’s always more to see.
Highly recommended, so much so that since our visit, two of my friends have stayed there and my parents visited for their 40th wedding anniversary! Enough said.